Being There

Being There

Hal Ashby

  • 1979
  • USA
  • Drama / Comedy
  • 2h10mn
  • Original version with French subtitles
  • Color
Struck by a limousine, Mr Chance, a simple-minded gardener, is taken in by a couple of rich moguls close to the US President. He ends up becoming his advisor.
Peter Sellers loved Jerzy Kosinski’s book and spent nine making the project come to fruition, meticulously preparing himself for his role, one of his career's most moving one. It would be the last of his films to be released while he was alive, as he would pass away that same year. An offbeat and elusive bittersweet dark comedy, Being There finds the subtle balance between satire and poetry on a line of permanent misunderstandings : a child in an adult’s body expressing his visions of seasons, and politicians taking them as enlightened metaphors about the country’s economy. Ridicule never comes from the character but from the eyes of those who can’t understand him.

Dominik Moll

Hal Ashby holds a leading place in my pantheon of great directors. A free, inventive, bold, often funny, profoundly human, and salutarily non-conformist cinema. I could have also chosen The Last Detail, Bound for Glory or Coming Home. but Being There suits l’Étrange Festival better, with its totally disconnected hero, surely Peter Sellers greatest role. He plays Mr Chance, a naive gardener who discovers the world’s absurdities and becomes the US president’s advisor. It’s jubilantly and deliciously ironic.


16/09 • 16h30 • Screen 100
Screening presented by Dominik Moll



  • With : Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart
  • Screenplay : Jerzy Kosinski
  • Photography : Caleb Deschanel
  • Editing : Don Zimmerman
  • Music by : Johnny Mandel
  • Production : Andrew Braunsberg, Charles B. Mulvehill, Jack Schwartzman